Friday, May 14, 2010
Watching Deathtrap was interesting to me for a few reasons. I saw a production of Deathtrap when I was probably around 10 years old-it was at a local theater in Westerly, RI. At the time, because I was young I was struck by the play, not only because of the twisty, turny plot. Specifically, there was only two things I remembered about the productions: (SPOILERS AHEAD for a 32 year old play and a 28 year old movie) 1) when Clifford Anderson comes back from the dead and scares the wife to death literally and 2) Sidney Bruhl using the word "faggot". For me, at that young age, actually turned the idea of plays and theater going on its head-and I stress I was young at the time- I had this idea of the theater being a mostly staid, stuffy experience, but, whoah, murder AND you can "swear" on stage. This was some next level stuff. Also my younger self obviously didn't pick up on the nature of the relationship between the two leads until I was much older. And considering my parents, I bet they were mortified watching this play right next to me. But it was sort of a weird object lesson in parenting, they didn't freak out or even mention it, and I figured it out by myself later-no harm or foul. That being said, its also hard sometimes to bring a play to the screen, an adaptation of anything can be difficult, but the trick especially with this play he keeping that same sort of claustrophobic feel without making it seem too "stagey", if that makes sense. Lumet does a good job of this. It doesn't hurt that his two leads are great, and since everything pretty much rests on their shoulders thats a plus. There are only about 5 main characters here and when one is as awful as Dyan Cannon as Sidney Bruhl's wife, there has to be some pretty major lifting by the rest of the cast. The ending is a bit different than the play-the only reason I know is b looking it up on Wikipedia, I didn't remember from seeing the play. But, again, Lumet makes it work. It actually probably was to my advantage here that I hadn't seen the play in such a long time, so how it played it out was actually new to me all over again. And what I didn't get when I was younger was how strangely meta the play was about playwriting in and of itself, and about writing (and eventually triumping) with a play about the action you just saw.
Another interesting thing, to me, was watching Christopher Reeve. He is pretty chilling as the sociopath, Clifford Anderson. I say this because I realized when watching this that I only know him from the Superman movies and, perhaps, Remains of the Day. So I can honestly say I didn't realize he had it in him, or even had it in him to go toe to toe with a heavyweight like Michael Caine, and he really does a great job.